Photo: Norman Wallis has caught the clown
Southport has Manchester running scared
The businessman behind Southport Pleasureland’s Happy Halloween, the attraction at the heart of the UK’s first town-wide Halloween experience, today warned that Manchester’s decision to ‘spook up’ across the city this Autumn is proof that Southport is streets ahead.
International tourism entrepreneur Norman Wallis, who will this year add to Southport Pleasureland’s Halloween experiences, says the seaside town should be flattered that Manchester has chosen to follow in its footsteps three years on.
“Manchester might be jumping on the bandwagon but you saw it here first,” said Mr Wallis, who turned Pleasureland into the UK’s fun Halloween capital.
Mr Wallis, who has rebuilt the town’s amusement park, restoring it to a popular and thriving family-friendly amusement destination, launched his own Happy Halloween experience with significant personal investment in infrastructure, entertainments and marketing.
His Halloween experience, and attendance, has grown year-on-year, extending the visitor season and contributing to the town’s economy late into autumn. He still believes there is a chance to take on his original vision and professionally extend the festival even further through to Southport’s business and retail areas to capitalise on the new visits generated.
This year he will unveil a preview of his 2017 18+ scare experience, after dark in the park – which will take over after the family-focused ‘happy’ watershed. Terrifying scare houses are now under construction in the park and will open when the audience changes from family to adult and flips from fun to fear.
He said: “Southport still has an opportunity to put itself on the map as the premiere, totally immersive family-friendly scare experience. Mark my words, Southport has to be on its toes now, everyone must pull together and do our bit for the town at Halloween.
“Putting on something people are going to make a special journey for, and linger on after, requires vision and investment. It has to be done properly and for that you have to look to people who have theming as a core skill. I invested in extensive research internationally before launching the Happy Halloween experience, and I’ve done the same with the new adult scare attraction, working with consultants and my own creative team.
“The growth of Happy Halloween at Pleasureland has shown there is an appetite for this, if it’s properly resourced and professionally delivered. People come, and they contribute to the local economy.”
Mr Wallis wouldn’t be drawn on further details about this year’s Happy Halloween and the after dark in the park scare experience taster ahead of their formal launch, but concluded: “The town had an early lead. It has Pleasureland at its centre, the UK’s Happy Halloween Capital; there’s everything to play for.
“Pleasureland has proved that the vision is deliverable and a crowd pleaser. There is no reason why Southport can’t work to make up even more ground. The arrival of our adults-only scare experience will cement Pleasureland as an all-round Halloween destination. Manchester doesn’t have a Halloween anchor attraction, so we’re in the perfect position to encourage visitors to explore what else Southport has to offer – I remain committed to Southport and optimistic for what can be achieved – come on Southport, come on Merseyside!”
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